Refinery profits set record – Oil companies and Cali pols keep sticking it to you

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Oil refinery profits set a California record of $1.61 a gallon in July as consumers in the Los Angeles region paid as much as a dollar more than the rest of the nation.

The refineries’ gross profits, the amount they collect on a gallon of gasoline, was the highest on record since the California Energy Commission began collecting data in 1999, said Gordon Schremp, a senior fuels specialist at the commission.

The record $1.61 was set during the week of July 13, when gasoline prices reached as high as $5 a gallon in downtown Los Angeles.

via Oil refinery profits set a record in California – LA Times.

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Cincinnati prosecutor: ‘When I indict a murderer, I don’t pull punches’

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To put it simply, Joseph T. Deters, a law-and-order Republican from Hamilton County, Ohio, is not a prosecutor who’s known for sending cops to jail.

When he announced Wednesday that he had obtained a grand jury indictment for murder against a police officer in the shooting of an unarmed black motorist, Deters, 58, became an instant celebrity.

His expressions of disgust and dismay at the traffic stop that left a motorist with a fatal gunshot wound to the head spread rapidly across social media.

But the longtime prosecutor says his recommendation to the grand jury was based on a clear-eyed assessment of the facts.

“I’ve reviewed probably 100 police shootings. This was bad from the start, and you know, he’s going to have to answer for it — that’s the bottom line,” he said in an interview Thursday, referring to the officer involved. “I think it was a murder… I think we’ll win this case.”

via Cincinnati prosecutor who charged officer: ‘When I indict a murderer, I don’t pull punches’ – LA Times.

Why you hate pols and the media: Fattah’s wife, an NBC 10 anchor, defends Porsche sale

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Federal prosecutors alleged Wednesday in an 85-page indictment against her husband, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, and four others that Chenault-Fattah fraudulently sold her 1989 Porsche Carrera to a Florida-based lobbyist for $18,000.

“Both the indictment and media accounts are incorrect,” she said in her letter to the local NBC affiliate, parts of which were included in a report posted on the station’s website yesterday afternoon.

Chenault-Fattah has gone on voluntary leave, an NBC10 source told the Daily News, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The 57-year-old anchor isn’t named or charged in the federal indictment, but is identified as “Person E,” the congressman’s wife, who was “an affiliate of the Fattah enterprise.”

“I know this was a legitimate sale, but this is not likely to go away anytime soon,” she added.

NBC10 spokeswoman Shawn Feddeman did not return calls seeking comment, but a station source said execs will be monitoring ratings with Chenault-Fattah off the desk and will have more information available next week.

Chenault-Fattah claimed in the letter that she sold the car around January 2012 so that the proceeds could be used to purchase a $425,000 vacation home in the Poconos. “Two weeks before the close, the mortgage said a new law went into effect (this was Jan of 2012) and we were required to put $18,000 in reserve. It could not be a gift or a loan,” she wrote.

“A family friend agreed to buy it last minute and we sold the car for its blue book value,” she wrote. Herbert Vederman, a deputy mayor under former Mayor Ed Rendell who now lives in Palm Beach, Fla., wired the $18,000 to the Fattahs, the indictment alleges, and later received a bill of sale and title transfer.

via Fattah’s wife, an NBC 10 anchor, defends Porsche sale – Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pols cut great deals for sports teams…but not for you

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Politicians are eager to foster athletic circuses, which contribute little or nothing to the economy. But they pay scant attention to attracting capital investment that would create jobs – bread, if you will – for California’s million-plus unemployed workers.

Why are they so willing to slash red tape for teams, but not for everyone else? It just does not make any sense.

via Dan Walters: Politicians foster circuses – The Sacramento Bee.

California workers’ comp – it’s still a scam

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Three years after one of the Legislature’s periodic reforms of California’s system of compensating workers for job-related injuries and illnesses, costs to employers are climbing, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau says in a new report.

The 2012 reform, negotiated by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders with employers and labor unions, was aimed at curbing rising medical costs by tightening treatment oversight.

Those reforms have saved billions of dollars, the WCIRB report says, but total medical costs have continued to increase, with the average medical benefit per claim 90 percent above the national median.

via California workers’ comp costs still on rise – The Sacramento Bee.

Brown allows parole for psychopath school bus hijacker

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The governor of California on Thursday allowed parole for one of three men convicted in the 1976 kidnapping of 26 children and their school bus driver who were held captive in a buried trailer.

Gov. Jerry Brown had until midnight Thursday to decide whether to approve parole for 63-year-old James Schoenfeld or send the case back to the board that recommended his release. The governor chose not to act, which allowed the parole board’s decision to stand.

Schoenfeld, his brother, Richard, and a friend, Fred Woods – all from wealthy families in the San Francisco Bay Area – were convicted in 1976.

The men spent 18 months devising the plot and planned to ask for a $5 million ransom for the children, who ranged in age from 5 to 14.

via Governor allows parole for California school bus hijacker – The Sacramento Bee.

Trump could hand the White House to Hillary

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Donald Trump could do to the 2016 general election exactly what Ross Perot did a generation ago – with a Clinton pulling away from a Bush and a wealthy business mogul drawing a surprisingly large share of the vote.

A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds Clinton leading every potential Republican rival one on one. And while her lead has narrowed over several, it expands greatly in a race against Jeb Bush if Trump decides to jump in as a third-party candidate, as he has suggested is possible.

via New data show Trump could boost Clinton – The Sacramento Bee.

Allegedly pro-life Republicans in Congress are the real baby killers…

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Pro-life Republicans talk a good game on banning abortion but they never deliver. Anti-abortion activists have had enough of their B.S. It looks like the inevitable show-down is coming…soon.

As both the House and Senate consider bills to defund Planned Parenthood — the abortion giant responsible for hundreds of thousands of grisly child-killings every year — pro-life conservatives should ask the members of Congress who claim to stand with them one, simple question: Are you as dedicated to life as the Democratic party is to death?

Planned Parenthood never doubts Democratic support.

Republican “dedication” to life, by contrast, has yielded Supreme Court justices who provided the majorities necessary to uphold Roe and, more recently, enjoin Texas’s minimal safeguards on abortion clinics — simply because too many of the charnel houses would be forced to close if they actually properly cared for the women who entered their doors.

Democrats will defy public opinion to defend late-term abortion, while House Republicans recently showed that not even overwhelming public support is enough to convince them to pass a late-term abortion ban on the very day of the March for Life.

Since 2010, we’ve heard Republicans lament that they can’t accomplish much while holding only “one-half of one-third” of the government. Now they control one-third, and had Republican presidents been as competent at appointing judges as their Democratic counterparts, conservatives would control two-thirds.

I get the distinct feeling that if a Republican president prevails in 2016, the line will be: “We can’t accomplish anything substantial for life until we control all three branches and have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.” Gain the filibuster-proof majority, and they’ll still capitulate in the face of a strongly-worded press release from Salesforce.com.

If the answer isn’t “every bit as much to defend life as Democrats do to defend death,” then it’s time for a round of layoffs. Applications are welcome: The pro-life movement is now hiring.

via Every Allegedly Pro-Life Republican in Congress Should Be Asked This One Question – National Review Online.

A new kind of shakedown at the Capitol

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California lawmakers and other state officials arranged for donors, many with business at the Capitol, to contribute $28 million to nonprofit organizations, local museums and other favored causes during the first half of the year, according to the most recent filings with the Fair Political Practices Commission.

So-called behested payments must be reported when a public official asks a business, union, foundation or other entity to donate to a particular legislative, charitable or governmental purpose. Unlike campaign donations, which have limits, behested payments can be of any amount.

via California officials arranged $28 million in payments to favored nonprofits – The Sacramento Bee.

Export-Import Bank racket still stuck on Capitol Hill

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The effort to reopen the Export-Import Bank, which has helped thousands of U.S. companies export their goods, lost significant ground as House lawmakers approved a short-term highway funding bill that did not include new authority for the bank.

Supporters of the bank, including President Obama, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate as well as leading business groups, had hoped to attach a measure reauthorizing the bank’s charter to the highway bill.

That effort failed this week in the face of stiff opposition from House Republican leaders, who have called the bank a dispenser of corporate welfare.

The bank, which has lacked new authority to operate since the end of June, will remain unable to offer new loans and other assistance at least through the end of the summer as House members prepared to leave Wednesday for a lengthy recess.

via Export-Import Bank is dealt a blow as it is excluded from highway bill – LA Times.

Brown overturns parole for convicted killer

CaptureFor the second time in three years, Gov. Jerry Brown has reversed a decision by the parole board to release a prisoner who brutally murdered a Foster City woman in 1990.

In a letter dated July 10 but released this week, Brown said he was concerned about the explosive rage behind the killing and claimed Abel Leo Sapp, 47, would pose “an unreasonable danger to society” if set free.

The decision was a source of happiness and relief for Sue Melton, the sister of Sandra Swiggard, whom Sapp bludgeoned, knifed and strangled inside her apartment. Melton’s family pleaded with the governor not to release the inmate at California State Prison, Solano.

via Foster City: Gov. Brown overturns parole for convicted killer – San Jose Mercury News.

Caffeine Inhalers: America’s latest addiction

CaptureIn a culture that has already infused caffeine into everything including popcorn, cookies, lip balm, hot sauce, ice cream and, yes, personal lubricant, it’s not surprising that some people may find the simple act of sipping — coffee, tea, whatever — to achieve a buzz painstakingly backward.

The solution? Pass the vape, dude.

E-cigarettes have merged with triple-shot lattes in the form of caffeine inhalers. The new devices, with names like the Eagle Energy Vapor, promise to deliver a burst of caffeine to on-the-go college students and professionals who cannot spare the time, apparently, to pause for a Starbucks venti.

via Caffeine Inhalers Rush to Serve the Energy Challenged – The New York Times.

Cali schools just suck; ranked 9th worst in the nation

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According to WalletHub’s analysis, California has the 9th worst school system in the nation, thanks in part to low reading and math test results, a high dropout rate and an abysmal score (worst in the nation) for the high number of pupils per teachers in our classrooms.

Besides those mentioned above, WalletHub’s ranking examined a variety of other factors, like SAT scores, the percentage of graduates to complete an AP exam and overall safety. The latter, which included the percentage of high school students who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon at school, bullying incident rates and youth incarceration rates, definitely played a role in California’s inclusion in the bottom ten. The state ranked 49 of 51 for safety, making it the 3rd worst, ahead of Indiana (50) and Washington, D.C. (51).

via California’s school system ranked 9th worst in the nation – San Francisco, Chronicle.

Climate deniers on the losing side, most Cali residents say climate linked to drought

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Nearly two-thirds of Californians believe global warming is having an impact on the state’s persistent drought, sharing Gov. Jerry Brown’s environmental concerns as he presses for tougher climate change standards, according to a new statewide poll released Wednesday.

The Public Policy Institute of California found that 79 percent of residents agree that global warming is either a very serious or somewhat serious threat to California’s quality of life. And across racial groups, 69 percent of Latinos are most likely to say the effects have already begun, followed by 63 percent of blacks, 60 percent of Asians and 58 percent of whites.

Democrats were more likely than independents and Republicans to call the threat very serious.

“The threat of global warming to the state’s future is a shared belief among inland and coastal residents and Californians across racial and ethnic groups,” said PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare. “But there are persistent partisan divisions on climate change.”

via Poll: Most Californians say climate change linked to drought – The Sacramento Bee.

It’s called stealing: UC paid former president Mark Yudof $546,000 in the year after he resigned

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Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, said he was disappointed to learn of Yudof’s 2014 pay. He said UC officials pleaded poverty when asked to allocate more money for California students this year.

“This is yet another example of the University of California finding money for executive compensation at the same time they say they can’t find money for enrollment for California residents,” said McCarty, who chairs the Assembly budget subcommittee on education finance. “It makes you scratch your head.”

University of California paid former president Mark Yudof $546,000 in 2014 – the year after he stepped down from his post, according to salary data released by the UC system this week.

Yudof served as UC president for five years before resigning in late summer 2013 to become a law professor at UC Berkeley. He was replaced by Janet Napolitano, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and governor of Arizona.

At UC Berkeley, Yudof co-instructed one class for one semester in 2014, according to a faculty profile page on the university’s website. The class met once a week for three hours.

via UC paid former president Mark Yudof $546,000 in the year after he resigned – The Sacramento Bee.

Nothing new here: Officials spend extra taxes on themselves

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One of my favorite, albeit dull-sounding, economic ideas is called “Public Choice Theory.” Basically, it argues that people who work in bureaucracies share the same goals of self interest as anyone else. So when a bug-killing agency or a university begs for more money to help you, you should have little doubt its officials will first help themselves.

via UC spends big dollars on salary boosts – Steven Greenhut, San Diego Union-Tribune.

Outrage against bloodthursty American trophy hunters grows

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“Americans are among the most bloodthirsty among citizens of the world when it comes to trophy hunting, in particular lions and elephants,“ said Jeff Flocken, North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “It’s a small group of privileged Americans. Eighty percent or more of Americans want to see endangered species protected.”

A beloved lion who usually roamed within the confines of an African conservation park is dead. An American hunter has been named by Zimbabwean officials as the killer of the animal. Many people are outraged.

The death of Cecil the lion also has some asking questions about the sizable role U.S. citizens play in the controversial sport of slaying wildlife for trophies.

“Americans are among the most bloodthirsty among citizens of the world when it comes to trophy hunting, in particular lions and elephants,“ said Jeff Flocken, North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “It’s a small group of privileged Americans. Eighty percent or more of Americans want to see endangered species protected.”

A $55,000 hunt

Idaho town outraged over killing of popular mule deer

Cecil, a well-known lion with a distinctive black mane, was reportedly killed July 1 by crossbow just outside Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.

According to news reports citing Zimbabwean authorities, Walter James Palmer, a dentist from Bloomington, Minn., paid about $55,000 for the hunt. Palmer has denied any wrongdoing, saying in a written statement that to his knowledge everything about his trip “was legal and properly handled and conducted.”

via Dentist accused of killing Cecil is not alone: Trophy hunters are mostly Americans – LA Times.

#KillerCop indicted on murder charges for executing African-American motorist

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A ruthless thug cop pulled over an African-American motorist for not having a front license plate. The traffic stop resulted in the cold blooded murder of the driver Samuel DuBose.

A white University of Cincinnati police officer who shot a black motorist during a traffic stop has been indicted on murder charges, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

The case involves university police Officer Ray Tensing who stopped Samuel DuBose on July 19 in Mount Auburn, a predominantly African American neighborhood in Cincinnati. DuBose was shot and killed.

“It was so unnecessary for this to have occurred,” Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters told a televised news conference in Cincinnati. “This situation should never have escalated like this.”

Deters was sharply critical of Tensing, who he said lost his temper. Tensing  “should never have been a police officer,” Deters said.

“I feel so sorry for the family, what they have lost and sorry for the community too,” Deters said.

“This type of senseless act, this doesn’t happen in the United States. Maybe in Afghanistan, but not in the United States. People don’t get shot for a traffic stop,” the prosecutor said.

Tensing was wearing a body camera that recorded the events.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley told reporters this week that the city was ready to deal with any repercussions from the grand jury decision.

“I think we’re prepared,” Cranley told reporters after attending DuBose’s visitation before the funeral services. “Everyone has the right to peacefully protest, but we will not tolerate lawlessness.”

via University of Cincinnati officer indicted on murder charges in motorist’s shooting – LA Times.

Critics call for the closing of Obama’s internment camps

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With critics increasingly calling for the Obama administration to end immigrant family detention, members of Congress held a Capitol Hill forum Tuesday to hear from experts, former detainees and a former detention center employee.

At the forum, hosted by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Democrats from the House Judiciary Committee, speakers described alarming conditions at all three of the country’s immigrant family detention centers, in Leesport, Pa., and Dilley and Karnes City, Texas.

Gladys Checas, 21, a former detainee from Honduras, said she was repeatedly turned away when she sought medical treatment for her 3-year-old daughter, Catherine, after the girl started vomiting blood at the Leesport center, where they were held for 11 months.

“They said it was normal and said she should be put to bed and drink lots of water,” Checas said. Her daughter was treated later, after Checas’ attorney helped persuade officials to take them to a hospital, she said.

Sonia Hernández, 33, a Salvadoran mother who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas illegally with her three children — ages 11, 9 and 3 — was held at the Karnes facility for more than 10 months. There, she said, she saw women suffer miscarriages, children threaten suicide and mothers slit their wrists. (Homeland Security officials dispute allegations of miscarriages and suicide attempts at Karnes.)

“The only thing I ask is for these detention centers to be closed,” Hernández said through an interpreter, adding, “There must be a better way to deal with these cases.”

via Immigrant detention centers criticized at Capitol Hill forum – LA Times.

Hackers go after Planned Parenthood employee information

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Hundreds of names and email addresses of Planned Parenthood Federation of America employees across the nation were leaked after a security breach on Sunday night.

The names and contact information for more than 300 Planned Parenthood employees have been published on a private website hosted by a group of hackers, part of an organization called 3301.

The hack comes as Planned Parenthood is battling controversy over the release of a series of heavily edited undercover videos, released by an antiabortion group that accuses Planned Parenthood of illegally profiting off selling fetal parts for medical research.

Planned Parenthood has condemned the videos as misleading and strongly denied wrongdoing. Republicans have called for the federal government to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood, including a Monday announcement by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a presidential candidate, promising a Senate vote soon on cutting off funds.

Planned Parenthood acknowledged the cyber attack and said it has contacted the FBI and U.S.  Justice Department.

via Cyber attack leaks Planned Parenthood employee information – LA Times.

How Gilead Science steals from U.S. taxpayers…

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There’s one especially eye-catching number in a new report by Medicare actuaries about U.S. healthcare spending: 12.6%.

That’s the leap in prescription drug spending last year over the year before. How sharp an increase is it? It was five times as much as the increase for 2013 over 2012, which was a mere 2.5%.

The actuaries have no doubt what’s driving the increase. It’s “a result of expensive new treatments for hepatitis C,” they write in their report for the journal Health Affairs. And more than any other drugs, that means Gilead Science’s Sovaldi, which cost about $84,000 for a 12-week treatment, or about $1,000 per once-a-day pill.

The increase in prescription costs was a sizable contributor to an increase in U.S. healthcare spending growth last year of 5.5%, a spike up from the previous year’s increase of 3.6% and the first time growth exceeded 5% since 2007; if not for the drug spending, the overall increase would have been only 4.8%.

But the major driver, the actuaries reported, was the expansion of healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which brought new insurance coverage to 8.4 million Americans. That expanded coverage had clear benefits to the newly insured: the nationwide growth in out-of-pocket spending slowed to just 1.3% last year from 3.2% in 2013, because so much more healthcare was covered by health plans or Medicaid.

The major cloud on spending patterns was drug pricing. As we reported in June, Sovaldi and its follow-on drug Harvoni are the closest thing in years to miracle drugs. Their cure rate of hepatitis C, a condition that can lead to liver failure or liver cancer, exceeds 90%, with almost none of the horrific side effects caused by their predecessor treatments.

via How a hugely overpriced hepatitis drug helped drive up U.S. health spending – LA Times.

L.A. City Council passes another useless gun ban that criminals will simply ignore

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L.A. pols pass useless gun ban that won’t deter crime…then pat themselves on the back. Meanwhile criminals continue to do crimes.

Defying sharp warnings from gun rights groups, Los Angeles thrust itself into the national debate over gun control Tuesday, as city lawmakers voted unanimously to ban the possession of firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Such magazines have been “the common thread” in almost all the mass shootings that have devastated the country, from Newtown to Virginia Tech to Columbine, said Juliet Leftwich, legal director for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Backers of the plan said it was a small but meaningful step to minimize the bloodshed, by forcing attackers to at least interrupt their rampages to stop and reload.

The National Rifle Assn. and other gun rights groups have threatened to sue over Los Angeles’ new rules, arguing that they violate the 2nd Amendment and are preempted by existing state law.

In reaction, Councilman Paul Krekorian declared before a cheering crowd outside City Hall, “If the NRA wants to sue us over this, bring it on.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he was eager to sign the L.A. measure, which passed 12-0 with three council members absent. Even as city officials celebrated the newly passed restrictions, some gun control activists were dismayed to hear about a proposal to exempt retired police officers from the rules — an 11th-hour change sought by the union that represents Los Angeles police.

via L.A. City Council bans large-capacity ammunition magazines – LA Times.

Texas nun greets detained immigrants at the gate to freedom

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Sister Sharon Altendorf waits for hours in the bare lobby. A television blares Muzak and flashes photos of employees of the month. Nearby, a guard keeps watch next to a metal detector.

The nun sits in a plastic chair, a diminutive figure beneath the harsh fluorescent lights. She is instantly recognizable with her cross earrings, short gray hair, mint green pantsuit and sensible black shoes. Fellow volunteers — drawn by the plight of immigrant mothers to this rural outpost amid the oil fields — make their way across the gleaming linoleum to greet her.

Workers call this place a residential center for immigrant families.

“The kids really have a hard time here,” the nun once told a staffer.

“Why?” the staffer asked. “They have everything they want.”

“It’s a prison,” she said.

via A Texas nun greets detained immigrants at the gate to freedom – LA Times.

S.F. bike thugs want to be exempt from traffic laws

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Bicyclists shouldn’t be required to stop at stop signs. Instead, they should yield.

That’s the position of the cycling group The Wigg Party, in response to a proposed crackdown on cyclists who run stop signs and red lights in SFPD’s Park Station district, which oversees the Panhandle and Haight neighborhoods, among others.

The Wigg Party is named after a local bicycle route, “The Wiggle,” which winds through San Francisco’s hilly east-west corridor.

To protest this cyclist crackdown, The Wigg Party plans to gather hundreds of cyclists along a popular bike route today for a novel style of protest: They plan to come to a full stop at every stop sign, obeying the absolute letter of the law.

Morgan Fitzgibbons of The Wigg Party said it’s actually dangerous for cyclists to do so, hence the protest to prove the point.

Rather than come to a complete stop at every stop sign, he said, cyclists should be legally allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs. If a car or pedestrian is present, cyclists should stop, but if no one is present, cyclists should be allowed to roll through.

via Sign of the Times: Cyclist group wants S.F. to shift gears, update policy on when to stop – The San Francisco Examiner.

Ninth Circuit upholds Cali ban on shark fins

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A federal appeals court upheld California’s ban on possession or sale of shark fins Monday, rejecting a challenge by Bay Area suppliers and sellers of shark fin soup, a traditional dish in the Chinese American community.

The law prohibited selling and serving shark fin soup when it took effect in July 2013. Opponents, including restaurants, Chinese American community organizations and shark fin suppliers, argued that the law exceeded the state’s authority and interfered with a commercial fishing market that federal regulations were intended to preserve. Federal laws prohibit shark “finning,” the removal of fins from live sharks, but do not forbid possessing or selling shark fins.

But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said federal laws on shark fishing recognize the importance of conservation and allow states to adopt their own protective measures, even if they reduce the number of sharks that might otherwise be caught and sold.

via U.S. court upholds California ban on shark fins – San Francisco Chronicle.

Walter Palmer has a felony record in the U.S. related illegal hunting

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An avid Minnesota hunter accused of illegally killing Cecil, a handsome black-maned lion who was the star attraction at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, said Tuesday that he thought everything about his trip was legal and wasn’t aware of the animal’s status “until the end of the hunt.”

Walter Palmer, who has a felony record in the U.S. related to shooting a black bear in Wisconsin, released a statement through a public relations firm after being identified by Zimbabwean authorities as the American involved in the July hunt. They said Palmer is being sought on poaching charges, but Palmer said he hasn’t heard from U.S. or Zimbabwean authorities.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” said Palmer, a dentist who lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie.

Initial reports indicated a Spaniard killed the lion but today the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force told the London Guardian the hunter was Palmer.

Palmer allegedly paid some $50,000 for the opportunity to kill the lion and left him skinned and beheaded on a farm adjacent to Zimbabwe’s largest nature reserve.

via Dentist from Minnesota accused of killing Zimbabwe’s beloved lion Cecil speaks – San Francisco Chronicle.

Planned Parenthood’s hubris opens the door for anti-abortion activists

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Religious leaders and other anti-abortion rights activists rallied Tuesday outside a Planned Parenthood in midtown Sacramento, after an anti-abortion group released a third video related to the use of fetal body parts.

The rally, one of dozens planned by anti-abortion activists in cities across the country, drew about 200 people. They called for Congress to withhold federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

“This is like being at the gates of Auschwitz,” said Wynette Sills, an organizer. “It’s not a rally so much as it is a memorial to all the lives that have been killed right here in this building.”

Planned Parenthood has generated renewed controversy following the release of secretly recorded videos showing officials discussing the price and delivery of fetal body parts. Activists accuse Planned Parenthood of profiting off of sales, while Planned Parenthood has said it is only reimbursed for costs – and does not profit – from a tissue donation program it said supports lifesaving scientific research.

via Anti-abortion rights activists rally at Planned Parenthood in Sacramento – The Sacramento Bee.

In another lost cause, Republicans go after CalTrans workers

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As part of their effort to pay for the major transportation overhaul Gov. Jerry Brown has called for without levying new taxes, Assembly Republicans have proposed cutting 3,500 full-time positions from the California Department of Transportation, at a savings to the state of half a billion dollars.

Their proposal is taken from a 2014 Legislative Analyst’s Office report, which says Caltrans has too many engineers who prepare and oversee construction projects. The cut represents about a third of those positions, which the analyst’s report suggested could be eliminated without an effect on transportation work.

But the claim that there are thousands of jobs to be cut is far from uncontested. The state Department of Finance, Caltrans and the union representing the engineers whose jobs would be cut all say the agency is now running efficiently.

via Is Caltrans wasting millions on idle staff? – The Sacramento Bee.

Anti-vaxxer kooks move to recall Richard Pan, overturn vaccine law

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Thwarted in the Legislature, opponents of California’s vaccine mandate law have turned to the ballot box with a recall aimed at Senate Bill 277’s champion.

A campaign to recall Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, the pediatrician who carried the bill requiring full vaccinations for schoolchildren, has been cleared to advance to the signature-gathering phase. Proponents have until Dec. 31 to collect 35,926 verified signatures from the 436,318 registered voters in his district.

Crafted in response to a measles outbreak that began in Disneyland, SB 277 spurred a furious backlash from parents assailing a loss of child-rearing autonomy and insisting that vaccines are unsafe. As they lined up at hearings to testify against the bill, many vowed to make lawmakers pay at election time.

Their efforts to block the bill failed, with Gov. Jerry Brown signing it into law, but they are making good on the election threat. In addition to seeking to recall Pan, bill opponents are seeking to overturn the law via referendum.

via Effort to recall Richard Pan over vaccine bill cleared for signatures – The Sacramento Bee.

Big money, sex and eyeglasses

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This is a tale about high-powered politics, big money and even sex – a tale, believe it or not, about eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Research by the Vision Council of America indicates that about three-quarters of Americans wear corrective eyewear of some kind. If one applies that statistic to California, it translates into nearly 30 million people.

Even if those Californians are spending, either directly or through insurance, just $200 per year each on examinations and eyewear, it’s big bucks, about $6 billion. And in California’s Capitol, when an issue’s stakes are that high, its politics can be harsh.

Segments of the optical industry – opticians, optometrists, ophthalmologists, eyewear retailers, etc. – have jousted among themselves for decades over slices of the multibillion-dollar pie, which are largely divvied up by state law.

During one outbreak of optical hostilities some years back, for example, one faction dispatched technicians to a national political convention to offer free eye exams to delegates, many of them legislators, and their families.

Another clash years ago had an unusual complication. Two lobbyists for opposing optical interests were both keeping intimate company – on separate occasions, of course – with the chief of staff to the governor.

Current infighting has to do with a long-standing state law that prohibits direct business relationships between optometrists and “registered dispensing opticians.”

via Dan Walters: Big money, sex and eyeglasses – The Sacramento Bee.

Target Britain: Immigrants swarm the Channel Tunnel

About 2,000 migrants tried to enter the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais on Monday night in a bid to reach the UK.

Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed the government had agreed an extra £7m towards increased security at the Channel Tunnel terminal in France.

But the Freight Transport Association called for the Army to be brought in.

Speaking in Singapore, Prime Minister David Cameron said the crisis in Calais was “concerning” and said he has sympathy with those British holidaymakers affected.

He said Mrs May was due to chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee Cobra later.

via Channel Tunnel: Migrant flow at Calais ‘too much to handle’ – BBC News.

Conservatives to Boehner – Jihad!

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A House Republican often at odds with John Boehner launched a bid Tuesday to kick the speaker of the house out of his job — an almost unheard-of rebellion but one that has been simmering for months.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, filed a motion to “vacate the chair” — a parliamentary maneuver that could be used to depose Boehner, R-Ohio.

The motion accuses Boehner of having “endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent,” and of using “the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.”

That second charge is personal for Meadows, who went toe to toe with Boehner’s leadership team last month — and won.

Meadows was stripped of his position as chairman of an Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee after he voted against a bill — backed by Boehner — to give President Barack Obama more authority to “fast track” trade initiatives. Meadows won back the job after House conservatives raised an uproar.

Meadows, a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, has long been at odds with Boehner, whom he and others on the GOP’s right consider to be too accommodating to Obama. In January, he was one of 25 conservatives to vote against Boehner’s re-election as speaker.

via Fellow Republican Launches Bid to Oust Boehner as House Speaker – NBC News.

Anonymous vid claims Sandra Bland was already dead when her mugshot was taken

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In the new video online, Anonymous are alleging that Sandra is already dead in her mugshot which has been widely circulated by the media.

They have also stated that the police are “using the media to peddle their agenda”.

The Anonymous collective is enraged at what they term, “the failed attempt by Waller County PD and the Texas Trooper Association to mask a blatant act of crime against an innocent woman”.

“And we will not stand as Sandra’s death becomes another hashtag and then a statistic.

“Sandra Bland was murdered. Anonymous exposes this crime and demands the arrests of those involved.”

via Sandra Bland: Anonymous release video claiming to ‘expose Texas police for releasing dead mugshot’ – Mirror Online.

China beats-out Mexico as the top country of origin for immigrants to the U.S.

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Once singled out for exclusion by law from the United States, Chinese immigrants now make up the largest single group of arrivals a year into this country.

A recent report by the Census Bureau reported that China replaced Mexico as the top country of origin for immigrants to the U.S. in 2013, and another report has found that China sends more students to the U.S. than any other country.

What’s equally improbable, given the history, is that Chinese immigrants are now considered part of the rising Asian American “model minority,” showcasing how immigrants (and other minorities) can make it in America. Media portrayals of Chinese and other Asian Americans often contrast sharply to those of other immigrants, like undocumented immigrants from Mexico, or Middle Eastern Muslim immigrants unfairly tainted by association with terrorism.

via Chinese now top U.S. immigrant arrivals – Sleeping Giant.

Lazy L.A. cops have left over 4,800 murders unsolved

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In L.A. County, of the 11,244 homicides committed in an 11-year span, 4,862 (or 46 percent) remain unsolved, according to an analysis of law enforcement data.

Getting Away with Murder: Residents react to unsolved homicides statistics in L.A. County – Los Angeles Daily News.

Arne Duncan slams college costs, says states, U.S. must boost graduation rates

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The nation’s colleges are too costly and students frequently are not getting their money’s worth, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Monday, emphasizing that states and the federal government must do more to ensure that students complete their degrees.

The remarks came during a speech laying out Duncan’s vision for higher education and the policy priorities in President Obama’s final 18 months in office.

California and other states, Duncan said, must begin to invest more in higher education and focus more on innovative programs that increase student outcomes and success — especially for low-income and otherwise  disadvantaged students.

via States, U.S. must boost graduation rates, Duncan says in slamming college costs – LA Times.

Georgia’s jerk pols want to keep their laws secret (or make you pay to see them)

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Government officials have threatened “rogue archivist” Carl Malamud with legal action many times for his efforts to make public government documents widely available for free, but the state of Georgia has set a new standard for fighting this ridiculous battle: It’s suing Malamud for infringing its copyright of state laws by — horrors — publishing them online.

The law has no copyright, because it’s owned by the people.

The state’s lawsuit, filed last week in Atlanta federal court, accuses Malamud of piracy — and worse, of “a form of ‘terrorism.'” His offense: Through his website, public.resource.org, he provides members of the public access to a searchable and downloadable scan of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated — that is, the entire body of state law. The state wants a court order forcing Malamud to stop.

Georgia and Malamud have been waging this battle for a couple of years, or ever since Malamud sent thumb drives bearing the scans to the speaker of the state House of Representatives in 2013. A cease-and-desist order, which Malamud rebuffed, came virtually by return mail.

via Georgia claims that publishing its state laws for free online is ‘terrorism’ – LA Times.

Pathetic S.F. supes pimp for @PG&E in renewable energy fight

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San Francisco is on target to launch a renewable energy program early next year to begin competing with PG&E after 11 years of bitter politics and millions of dollars spent.

But a ballot measure submitted by IBEW Local 1245, a labor union representing PG&E workers, which qualified for the ballot Wednesday through a signature gathering campaign, has raised concerns about the program’s future.

If passed, IBEW’s measure would prohibit The City from counting energy as “clean” or “green” if it doesn’t fit into only one of the three energy categories allowed under state renewable energy definitions.

Program supporters downplay the impact the measure might have on the proposed CleanPowerSF program. But clearly there are worries.

The Board of Supervisors is fighting the measure with a competing one introduced by board president London Breed, which the board is expected to place on the ballot Tuesday, following a committee hearing on it today. “This measure wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the IBEW measure,” said Supervisor John Avalos, adding that it is needed “to protect the CleanPowerSF program.”

PG&E could use the same energy mix as CleanPowerSF and call portions of it “green” or “clean” that The City could not under the IBEW measure. The fear is, the less The City can promote its energy program as renewable energy, the greater the opt-out rate of CleanPowerSF customers to return to PG&E. That could hamper the program’s revenue stream and limit its potential for investment in renewable energy projects.

via Supes try to ‘protect’ SF’s renewable energy program – The San Francisco Examiner.

Airline food preparers target ticket costs, airline greed, in quest for better pay

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If you’ve recently dined while flying, you might be surprised to learn the airline who served you that meal probably paid just $3 for it. And with air carriers spending so little on food, the workers who prepare those in-flight meals must survive on inadequate wages while working in environments that are sweatshop-like and icy cold.

That’s according to Anand Singh, president of Unite Here Local 2, a labor union that recently demonstrated in Burlingame to protest pay and working conditions at Flying Food Group, a subcontractor that provides meals for carriers flying out of San Francisco International Airport and other hubs nationwide.

The employees typically earn $10.50 per hour, Singh said, and many do not participate in the company’s health insurance plan, due to high copayments.

Flying Food Group is one of three companies providing almost all in-flight meals to the airline industry, Singh explained, and employees of the other two firms, Gate Gourmet and LGS Sky Chefs, joined the recent demonstration.

Flying Food Group’s SFO-bound meals are created on an assembly line in Burlingame, and working conditions there are “horrendous,” according to Singh.

via Airline food preparers in Burlingame target ticket costs in quest for better pay, benefits – The San Francisco Examiner.

#Racist Rocklin thug cops go Gestapo on African American college student

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The suit, filed in federal court in Sacramento this month, claims police forced Huggins and Rylee, his white roommate, to the ground, handcuffed them and kicked Huggins in the face when he asked an officer why he had drawn his pistol out of its holster. Then, both sides agree, the handcuffed pair were driven away to a dark, empty parking lot a mile away for more questioning.

“I’m like, ‘Why are we in a vacant parking lot? Why aren’t we going to the precinct?’ ” Huggins said this month in an interview at the office of his Sacramento attorney, Stewart Katz. “I thought I was going to die, basically.”

Huggins’ lawsuit says that at the parking lot, he was taken out of the car and questioned by an officer, who made it clear he needed to answer questions the way police wanted.

via Lawsuit alleges Rocklin police targeted African American athlete – The Sacramento Bee.

Democrats want to make it more difficult to place initiatives on the ballot

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It’s no secret that the Legislature’s dominant Democrats want to make it more difficult to place initiative measures on the statewide ballot.

They say they just want to reduce ballot clutter and discourage sponsors of kooky measures, but having achieved almost total control of the legislative process, they also don’t want to contend with ballot measures that reflect contrary ideological proclivities.

However, polling has consistently shown that Californians like having the power to vote on big issues.

via Dan Walters: Pushing for voter input on big issues is brilliant strategy – The Sacramento Bee.

Hispanics are increasingly locked out of home ownership

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They make up the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, yet Hispanics are increasingly locked out of home ownership because of tighter lending standards that rely on outdated measures of creditworthiness.

Comprising more than 17 percent of the population right now and projected to double, Hispanics are a political and economic force to be reckoned with. And they potentially represent an answer to turning around a sagging national home ownership rate that’s approaching levels not seen since before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The national rate of home ownership fell to 63.8 percent over the first three months of 2015. The last time it was lower was the final quarter of 1989, when it stood at 63.7 percent.

The problem for Hispanics, who in 2014 had an ownership rate of 45.4 percent, a 14-year low, is that conventional tools for gauging creditworthiness are locking them out in large numbers.

via Hispanics’ population rises, but their home ownership doesn’t – The Sacramento Bee.

Healthcare prices continue to skyrocket – pols make sure healthcare companies turn a huge profit

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Northern Californians will pay $88 more in average monthly health care premiums than Southern California consumers, under new 2016 rates announced Monday by Covered California, the state’s official health care marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

Statewide, Covered California officials trumpeted an average 2016 weighted premium increase of 4 percent, compared with 4.2 percent this year. The rates are preliminary, pending review by state regulators.

On average, Northern Californians will see a 7 percent increase in 2016 premiums, compared with a 1.8 percent increase in the state’s southern half. An average 40-year-old individual in a midrange Silver plan will pay $384 in the state’s north versus $296 in the south, according to Covered California.

via Covered California sets 4 percent hike in 2016 health care premiums; Northern Californians to pay more – The Sacramento Bee.

Government projects move ahead as long as there’s the political will to pay for them

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The most striking difference between a project funded by the private sector and one funded by the government is how costs and benefits are tabulated. With investors’ dollars at stake, private companies won’t proceed with a plan that doesn’t pencil out. Government projects move ahead as long as there’s the political will to pay for them.

via Revised Delta plan undermines the project’s economics – Steven Greenhut, San Diego Union-Tribune.

Conservatives double-down on Planned Parenthood, big-money abortion industry

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Two stealthily recorded videos show Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they provide aborted fetal organs for research. The videos have put the group and its Democratic allies on the defensive.

It’s unclear how long the political damage may last or whether Planned Parenthood has broken federal law — as abortion foes contend.

What is clear is that Republicans and anti-abortion groups are giving no signs of letting the issue fade quickly.

via No sign that issue of Planned Parenthood videos is fading – The Sacramento Bee.

#GOP #EpicFail: Ken Paxton prepares for criminal indictment in securities case

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Wary of letting his future be determined by legal roulette, Ken Paxton squashed a festering campaign problem by admitting he broke securities law. He paid a minor $1,000 fine and buried the matter en route to becoming Texas attorney general.

Or so he thought.

More than a year later, Paxton’s wheel of fortune is spinning again, but now, a criminal grand jury is in control.

The Republican’s admission that he solicited investment clients without the proper license has morphed into a legal and political battle that could result in felony charges, a forfeiture of his office and time in prison.

via Ken Paxton prepares for criminal indictment in securities case – Dallas Morning News.

Clueless Cali water agencies don’t know how much their pipes leak

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With California homeowners taking steps to save water during the drought, they may be dismayed to hear that a new UCLA report found that water agencies are unable to keep close track of how much their own pipes are leaking.

The report is particularly timely due to a new bill winding its way through the California State Legislature that would develop stricter rules for monitoring and preventing water loss, require water agencies to track leaks, breaks and water loss more closely by conducting annual audits, and make the audits public. Senate Bill 555 by state Sen. Lois Wolk recently passed one Assembly committee, despite resistance from the California Municipal Water Association, which lobbies on behalf of large public water utilities.

Researchers with the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability surveyed 10 water retailers in the Los Angeles region, and concluded that there’s no way to know how much water is lost to leakage and breaks. This is largely because California doesn’t require careful monitoring and water retailers do not invest enough to track water lost to leaks and breaks. The survey respondents were guaranteed confidentiality.

via California water agencies don’t know how much their pipes leak, report finds- Phys.org.

Rat #LAPD cop turns out to be bank robber

Rat cops turns out to be Snowbird Bandit
Obviously his big, fat @LAPD pension wasn’t enough.

Kateri Fogleman had to scream into a towel at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday so the kids wouldn’t hear.

Fogleman’s husband had just shown her a story about the “Snowbird Bandit” who robbed five South Orange County banks in the past four months and said they both recognized the man:

It was Fogleman’s father, Randy Adair, a retired Los Angeles Police Department detective.

“I went into freaking out and shock,” Fogleman, of Rancho Santa Margarita, said Thursday afternoon. “I fell to my knees. I was absolutely stunned. Paralyzed.”

The couple calmly got the kids out of the house and by 8 a.m., they were at Fogleman’s parents’ home a half-mile away. Adair was out for a haircut so they discussed the news with Fogleman’s mom.

“This can’t be true,” Fogleman said. “I was frozen, in shock.”

They had spent their lives in a law-enforcement family. They believed in the law.

via Ex-LAPD cop arrested as ‘Snowbird Bandit’: After seeing Randy Adair’s picture, his family had to turn him in – The Orange County Register.

Hey Republicans, being a bigot isn’t Reaganism

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The Republican Party has a bigger problem than Donald Trump: It hasn’t figured out what it wants to be.

GOP candidates still worship the legacy of Ronald Reagan, and cast themselves as Reagan’s heirs; there’s hardly a GOP stump speech in Iowa or New Hampshire that doesn’t invoke the 40th president’s name. “Every Republican likes to think he or she is the next Ronald Reagan,” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul noted last year.

But there’s little consensus among conservatives about what Reaganism means in 2015 beyond the basic principles of small government and lower taxes.

via Republicans are embracing many versions of Reaganism – LA Times.

Liar! Liar! Cruz doubles-down on hapless McConnell

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Forget the filibuster. Ted Cruz showed during Sunday’s rare Senate session that a few choice words — in this case, calling his party leader a liar — can be a potent tool in raising his campaign profile for president.

In a floor speech that lasted just seven minutes, the Republican senator from Texas doubled down on his earlier criticism of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to allow the Sunday vote to resurrect the Export-Import Bank, portraying it as a betrayal of the leader’s word not to do so.

“Speaking the truth,” is what Cruz said he was doing, picking up where he had left off Friday, when he said McConnell told “a simple lie” by insisting there was no backroom deal for the bank that is opposed by the powerful Koch brothers but supported by a bipartisan coalition of business interests, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“My saying so may be uncomfortable,” Cruz said, “but it is a simple fact.”

The Senate is home to four GOP presidential hopefuls (and one independent, who caucuses with Democrats). From time to time some of them have used the chamber as a venue to turn attention their way.

via What the 2016 GOP field is saying about Donald Trump – LA Times.

#MikeHuckabee Holocaust reference backfires, his #moron is showning

Screenshot 2015-07-27 at 07.07.47 Trailing badly in the polls, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is sticking with his controversial criticism of the Iran nuclear deal as “marching the Israelis to the door of the oven,” a reference to the Holocaust. The former Arkansas governor made the tweet Sunday, a day after first making the comparison when denouncing President Barack Obama for his role in the agreement reached by the United States and other world powers. Responding, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Huckabee’s statement was “grossly irresponsible” and called on him to apologize. Huckabee’s comments come as the GOP presidential candidates struggle to break through with 16 presidential candidates already in the GOP field, and one of those, New York businessman Donald Trump, getting more attention than most. via Huckabee criticizes Iran deal as being similar to Holocaust – San Francisco Chronicle.

Anti-carbon crusade declared a moral imperative

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Declaring it a moral imperative, California’s leading figures have embarked on a crusade to “decarbonize” the state, sharply reducing emissions of gases they say threaten to wreak havoc, even extinction, on the globe’s human population.

A first-stage decarbonization program is underway. But Brown and other political figures, such as Kevin de León, the president pro tem of the state Senate, want California to set a global example over the next 15 years by reducing petroleum consumption in cars and trucks by 50 percent, making buildings more energy-efficient and increasing electrical production from renewable sources – solar, wind and geothermal – from 33 percent, the current goal, to 50 percent. De León is carrying Senate Bill 350 that would implement those goals.

Their crusade, however, raises multiple questions.

via Dan Walters: Anti-carbon crusade clouded with uncertainities – The Sacramento Bee.

Senate Republican ‘Old Guard’ sides with Iran

Screenshot 2015-07-26 at 23.36.20Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, joined in on the push-back against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, urging fellow Republicans to withhold support for a planned motion by Cruz aimed at forcing a vote on one of his amendments.

Cruz wanted the Senate to take up a provision that would require Iran to recognize Israel as a state and to release four Americans now jailed in the Islamic republic. But senior Republicans urged fellow lawmakers to reject Cruz’s motion.

via Republican ‘Old Guard’ pushes back against Cruz and Lee – Washington Examiner.